ARIZONA DAILY STAR
April 10, 2005
"Guten Morgen," "Buenos dias," "Bonjour" - or a simple "Good
morning" to all of you residents of this polyglot burg who still haven't
mastered a second language.
By Tom Beal
It's never too late to learn, according to Dennis Evans,
associate dean of the University of Arizona's College of Humanities, which
hosted the Southern Arizona Language Fair Saturday - undoubtedly the only
place in town where you'd see a sign that read: "Free Portuguese lessons and
Evans said recent studies have debunked the notion that old
dogs can't master the tricks of German, Spanish, French or Turkish. "There
are still many brain cells left to accommodate language," Evans said.
Get it from Craig Call, a 15-year-old sophomore at Catalina
Foothills High: "I love languages; they're just so cool."
Call was one of 1,450 students from kindergarten to college
who gathered at the UA to test their proficiency or just put on a show in 14
Call recited a Pablo Neruda poem titled "Oda a la Pobreza"
(Ode to Poverty). He plans to continue his Spanish studies through college,
where he plans to study engineering. He's also learning Korean from his
Aneesha Hoosain, a 16-year-old junior classmate of Call's,
competed in Spanish proficiency. She also speaks English and Bengali and
thinks it's important to "experience different cultures. It is important to
be open-minded as well as bicultural," she said.
Hoosain expects to complete all the requirements for a
university minor in Spanish by the time she completes high school, leaving
her free to double-major in biology and chemistry. Then comes medical school
and a career as a cardiologist, she said.
English is the second language for Michelle Nguyen, 15, of
University High School, who grew up speaking Vietnamese. That's not enough
in her family. "My mom is like, 'You have to learn more languages.' " So
Michelle recited poetry Saturday in Vietnamese and Spanish.
Her classmate Anastacia Garland, also 15, has parental
pressure to thank for her budding multilingualism as well.
Mom, Christine, an Air Force reservist, came back from
Operation Desert Storm, where she was thrown together with a group of German
contractors speaking that language. She started speaking it at home, along
It rubbed off on her daughter. "I want to learn Spanish and
German," Anastacia Garland said. "I want to go to Germany and be able to
speak the language."
Spanish, as you might expect, was the big language on campus
Saturday, but the roster included everything from American Sign and Arabic
to Urdu and Vietnamese.
This year's fair set records for attendance and for the
number of languages represented, said Evans, who complimented Humanities
Dean Charles Tatum for offering to host the fair when school districts lost
funding for it, and praised the area's language teachers, who keep the
language lamp burning despite cutbacks and legal challenges to bilingual
"There is a nucleus of educators in Southern Arizona who
remain committed to language teaching and learning through all the tough
times. They have really kept the faith and kept these programs going," Evans